Earlier this week, Leslie Poston invited me to participate on her podcast on Race and Social Media along with Shireen Mitchell, Liza Sabiter, and Rahsheen Porter. One of the takeaways was, don't assume that everyone thinks like you do - and expose yourself to different points of view. This week I put that into practice.
Yesterday, I facilitated a hot topic workshop at the Healthy Communities Annual Conference hosted by the Search Institute in Minneapolis. Search Institute is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide leadership, knowledge, and resources to promote healthy children, youth, and communities.
When I've do social media and nonprofit trainings, the audience consists of staff, board members, or volunteers from nonprofit organizations. The diversity comes from the different generations in the room, types of nonprofits, and budget size. Nonetheless, there is a nonprofit perspective and my instructional materials and experience speak to that audience.
I've worked with other groups - small business, higher education, librarians, educators, and others, but never all mixed up. This audience included representatives from all these groups -- including educators, school administrators, highers education, faith communities, youth-serving organizations, social-service organizations, and the public sector.
And, best of all, I had young people in the workshop - all age 17 and under - the generation dubbed as "Generation Z. The demographics of the room was 35% Gen Z, 10% Gen Y, 15% Gen X, and 40% babyboomers like me.
It was a little challenging to remix a workshop that would be relevant to these different perspectives and age groups and have people leave the room having learned something. So, remixed my slide deck to represent the different points of view.
I spent some time in the beginning asking questions and letting people share their experience and perspectives on social media. As much as I could, if I got asked a question, I invited the younger folks in the room to answer and facilitated an inter-generational dialog. It was eye opening.
I had intended to do the game simulation, but it was too nonprofit centric. One lesson I learned early on as a trainer is not to be afraid to flush your lesson plan (at least the instructional delivery part) down the toilet if you sense it isn't right. So, I changed delivery tactics and it worked! We did mostly full room discussion, but I broke it up with some moving around exercises. (Note to self: Need to have a back-up small group exercise that I could do when the game won't work). Here's the full room exercises.
(1) Audience Stand Up Poll: Whenever I talk about social media and nonprofits, we talk about audience. I've been using the Forrester Technographics as a framework. Rather than me explaining it in detail and having people fall asleep. I gave them a high level description and asked them stand - and then I interviewed them in front of the group about the social media habits, pointing out the different segments.
This breaks up the full room discussion format a bit. But it also gave me an idea for a small group exercise or even an icebreaker where you might have people take a quiz or have the technographic profiles listed on butchblock sheets on the wall and have people stand in front of it. Then have full room discussion and have them share "Three Things About Us". Or you could break into small groups based on the technographic profile. Then have the group work on coming up with those.
(2) Walking the Line - Ready/Not Ready: I used the spectragram ribbon and asked people to line up according to whether they felt ready or their organization's were ready to implement social media or not. Then had a discussion having the ready folks give advice to the not ready.
I revised a lot of the content to match the audience. In the why it is important section, I went through the social networking from birth to high school slides. I asked the young people to share with us if they had used any of the social networks like Webkins, Penguin, Virtual Pets, etc. This was fascinating to learn why and how they participate and how adults in their lives perceive these technologies.
I also always show a slide about the age demographics of email users. When I talk to nonprofit professionals, this slide is always met with a high degree of skepticism. But in this instance, we had an interesting discussion about generational differences in electronic communications preferences.
I took them through a remix of the cutedog theory - or how to think about it strategically. In the policy section, I included the issue of cyberbullying and privacy issues. The young people in the room are experts on privacy settings on social networks and definitely had formulated friending policy - while the concept of friending policies was very new to some of the boomers in the room. The discussion was fantastic.
One of the workshop participants, a librarian, had done a lot of work on social networks -- on a personal level - just to document how some of the security issues are overblown in the media and also to understand what to teach young people about responsible and safe use. She shared some really useful resources.
While putting together the slideshow and thinking about social media staffing issues, I recalled a service learning project for high schools students form over ten years ago called Nonprofit Prophets where high school students, trained in web development, worked with nonprofits. I wondered whether there was a social networking version of that project today.
During the Q&A, a university researcher asked how they could get young people to fill out an online survey and whether or not they would do through a social networking. I facilitated a multi-generational brainstorming session with the younger people sharing their impressions of whether or not they ignore a myspace profile or not based on certain design elements and what would motivate them to participate in the research.
After the session, a couple of the younger folks thanked me and told me that thinking about social media as it applies to nonprofits or for "professional use" is a great way to debunk some myths with the adults they know!
I wish I could do inter-generational professional development workshops all the time! It's inspiring and energizing to get different points of view.
Update: Ashely pointed out that her experience is usually teens do not understand the issues. I asked on twitter Coolcat Teacher - Vicky Davis's blog whether social networking security and privacy were taught in schools and she said no. She pointed to this project.
What are your observations about the similarities or differences between nonprofit and social media across generations?